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Student essay contest offers cash prizes

Freedom of Information Oklahoma is offering cash prizes to high school students in the annual Zach Taylor First Amendment Essay Contest. Students in grades 9-12 must pick one of the freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment — speech, press, religion, assembly and government petition — and write about its importance to the American way of life.

Students are encouraged to do factual research on the topic, and to write creatively and personally rather than write a report. The deadline for entries is Oct. 24.

Entries should be about 500 words, typed and double spaced. Included should be the student’s name, school, teacher, principal, mailing address and a contact phone number. Also, the student’s personal email address if the student has one.

First prize is $300, second prize is $200 and third prize is $100. Seven students will receive honorable mentions and will be awarded iTunes gift certificates. The prizes will be awarded Nov. 14 at the 2018 First Amendment Congress at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.

UCO group to honor six distinguished alumni

The University of Central Oklahoma Alumni Association will recognize six recipients at the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 5 in the Grand Ballroom of Nigh University Center. The association has given the awards annually since 1952.

This year’s honorees are Marjorie Bennett, of Hennessey, a 1939 graduate who spent more than four decades teaching high school and college English, Latin, literature, speech and debate; Mike Collison, of Oklahoma City, vice president and chief financial officer of The Oklahoma Publishing Co., a 1991 graduate in accounting; Alisa Green, of Oklahoma City, founder and chairwoman of the Dress for Success Oklahoma City affiliate, a 2008 graduate in corporate communications; Bill Pink, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, president of Grand Rapids Community College and formerly vice president for academic affairs at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City and associate dean in the UCO College of Education and Professional Studies; Joli Sanders, of Norman, a licensed interior designer and founder of the nonprofit organization Focus on Home; Dr. J. Michael Steffen, of Oklahoma City, retired orthodontist who practiced more than 40 years in Edmond and Clinton, a 1972 graduate in biology.

The luncheon will include a formal awards presentation with video highlights of the honorees’ accomplishments. Alumni and friends may purchase a $25 ticket to the luncheon by Sept. 14.

Researchers, tribes to study water quality, other issues

A University of Oklahoma research group, led by Mark Nanny, is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation grant in the amount of $396,778. It will enable collaboration among researchers at OU, Oklahoma State University and the University of Tulsa in areas of research and coordination with Oklahoma Tribal Nations in various research projects.

Nanny and his team will address core concerns of the South-Central Plains region related to health care technology, environment/populations interactions, renewable energy and water quality.

Oklahoma Tribal Nation projects include water quality issues pertinent to the Quapaw Tribal Environmental Office through the Tar Creek Superfund Site, and the Miami, Ottawa, Wyandotte, Shawnee, Eastern Shawnee, Modoc, Quapaw, Peoria and Seneca-Cayuga Nations through the Grand Lake Watershed Council.

Oklahoma high school teachers will be engaged through the NSF program Rural Educators Engaged in Bioanalytical Engineering Research and Teaching, which targets rural students and teachers who are considered an underserved Oklahoma group.